Crime & Justice

ACLU: Heat-shooting jail device should be stopped

A civil rights group is speaking out against the Los Angeles County sheriff's plans to install a high-tech device that shoots a heat beam at unruly jail inmates.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California on Thursday sent a letter to Sheriff Lee Baca, urging him not to install the mechanism because of safety concerns.

The ACLU says early versions of the device had the potential to cause serious burns and death and its use in jail could be "tantamount to torture."

Cmdr. Bob Osborne, who oversees technology for the Sheriff's Department, says the concerns are unfounded and based on military versions of the device that are much more powerful.

The system is being installed at the Pitchess Detention Center north of Los Angeles.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.