One of Texas’s most infamous gang leaders – and boss of the Aryan Brotherhood – was sentenced to 50 "very hard years" of solitary confinement in state prison, Texas officials announced Nov. 16. He will be forced to spend 23 hours a day in his prison cell.
James Byrd, 45, also known as “Byrdman,” has a history of committing ruthless crimes like stabbing a man and then force-feeding his victim a piece of blood-soaked bread, slicing another man’s face 37 times, and organizing a meth ring, the NY Daily News reports. He was already in federal prison when this sentence was handed down.
Texas prosecutors urged for Byrd to be switched from federal prison to state prison, where solitary confinement is allowed for prisoners with gang ties.
“This guy was like an episode of the 'Sons of Anarchy,'” Joshua Ross, Tarrant County prosecutor told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The Aryan Brotherhood leader’s chest and eyelids are tattooed with swastikas and his back is covered with an image of Adolf Hitler.
Fort Worth, Texas, prosecutors proved to a jury that Byrd continued gang activities while in federal prison, securing the 50-year solitary confinement sentence by a Texas judge. This severe sentence is meant to help prevent the infamous gang leader from master-minding crimes behind bars, according to a Texas District and County Attorneys Association blog.
From late 2013 to early 2014, he held the Brotherhood's highest rank while in prison as a “Major," the Houston Chronicle reports. Byrd successfully controlled the North Texas meth trade, became "very influential" in the gang, and gained a devoted following.
"It was very significant to remove him," Tarrant County criminal prosecutor Allenna Bangs said, according to the Chronicle. "His removal in and of itself really calmed things down quite a bit. Because he can call shots, he can communicate with the higher ups."
Byrd’s capture was part of a Texas state and federal program to lock up Aryan Brotherhood gang members, resulting in the captures of 73 gang members since 2009.