The American Civil Liberties Union this week denounced the sheriff's plan use of a heat-beam device to control violent inmates at Los Angeles County Jail. In a letter to Sheriff Lee Baca the organization employing the weapon would be “tantamount to torture.”

The weapon known as the Assault Intervention Device is designed to fire intense beams of heat at disorderly inmates.

The military earlier had tested a similar but far more powerful version of the device known as the Active Denial System. During testing, five serviceman from the Air Force suffered serious burns, according to the ACLU. The armed forces declined to use the device.

According to the ACLU's letter:

We strongly oppose the view that it is ever appropriate to deploy against the detainees of a county jail – or any other incarcerated population — a military weapon intended to cause intolerable pain and capable of causing severe injury or death.

The ACLU also argued that deputies, because of past allegations of abuse, shouldn't be trusted to use the weapons only when inmates are out of control.

The organization requested a meeting with Sheriff Baca. It also seeks a guarantee that the device would not be deployed in the L.A. county jail system.

LA Weekly