MADISON, Wis. - A man ordered to be released from prison after 27 years remains in the Dane County jail on a "hold" by the Department of Corrections.
Dane County Judge Nicholas McNamara ordered Thursday in court that Richard Beranek, who has been in prison since 1990, be released on a signature bond with conditions.
"I simply don't believe Mr. Beranek is going to voluntarily choose to not show up after fighting, as I said, for 25 years for his day in court," McNamara said. "I can't believe he would be so foolish (as not appearing at future court appointments)."
Beranek has spent nearly three decades behind bars for raping a Stoughton woman in 1987. A group of lawyers with the Innocence Project worked to overturn his conviction with the help of new DNA evidence, which they say shows that a hair from the crime scene didn't belong to Beranek.
The state has until July 24 to decide whether to take Beranek to trial in connection with the case. Assistant Attorney General Bob Kaiser would not say what the state planned to do, and told the judge that the victim is still afraid of Beranek, after making comments to that effect at the 1990 sentencing hearing.
"She said, and I quote, 'that even after 30 years it would not be enough time because he could still come back and hurt her or her children.' How prescient that was," Kaiser said.
McNamara ordered that Beranek be released on a weekday before 3 p.m. Beranek will also be on bail monitoring. By Thursday afternoon, he remained on a "hold" in the Dane County Jail and it was unclear when he would be released.
DOC spokesman Tristan Cook told News 3 that the department is working with "local officials to determine an appropriate residence option to ensure public safety. This includes providing appropriate notifications and placing him on GPS monitoring."
Innocence Project attorneys worked outside the jail Thursday afternoon, trying to arrange his release.
"He's been in the Department of Corrections for almost three decades," said Innocence Project attorney Jarrett Adams, who was exonerated of a rape conviction himself before becoming an attorney. "It's called the Department of what? Corrections. So at what point does he get another shot?"
As a condition of his bond, McNamara ordered that Beranek not have contact with the victims, he can't drive a motor vehicle and he has a curfew; he must be at home between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Beranek intends to live with his family in Portage County and work a construction job with his brother if released.
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