Federal Sentences and the RDAP Program

Authorized by statute, the Residential Drug Abuse Program – commonly referred to as RDAP – is a voluntary five hundred hour, nine to twelve month substance abuse program available to inmates in the federal prison system.  This program is attractive to many inmates because in addition to providing treatment for substance abuse, the successful completion of the program provides for up to twelve months off an inmate’s federal sentence.

In order to be eligible for this program, the inmate must neither be classified as a violent offender nor have any detainers (such as deportation or transfer to another jurisdiction on pending charges following the federal sentence).  Additionally, the inmate must meet three criteria outlined by the Federal Bureau of Prisons:

1.  The inmate must have a documented pattern of substance abuse in the twelve months prior to the arrest for which he or she is serving his or her current sentence; AND

2.  The inmate must be able to complete all three phases of RDAP, including community transition drug abuse treatment; AND

3.  The inmate must be diagnosed by the Drug Abuse Program Psychologist as having a drug use disorder as defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).

Most eligible inmates begin the RDAP program with twenty-four months left on their sentence.  RDAP has three components:  unit-based component, follow-up services, and transitional drug abuse treatment.

In the unit-based component, participants generally live in a special section of the prison and split the day between drug abuse program activities and prison work or educational programs.  This component has a minimum requirement of five hundred hours and generally lasts from nine to twelve months at the end of which the inmate receives a certificate of completion.

Follow-up services is the component of RDAP following the unit-based component and is the first part of the after-care requirement of RDAP.  In this component, inmates are reintroduced into the general population and must participate in follow-up services offered by the prison, unless the inmate is scheduled to go directly to a halfway house following completion of the unit-based component.

Transitional drug abuse treatment is the third and final component of RDAP.  This lasts up to six months and generally occurs in a halfway house of on home confinement, depending on where the inmate is assigned.

Not every federal prison has a RDAP program.  The list of federal prisons that do have the program can be found here.

The recommendation for RDAP often comes from the presiding judge at sentencing after the presentence report (PSR) has been filed with the Court and the substance abuse issue has been highlighted in the sentencing memorandum by the attorney representing the accused.  While a federal inmate can apply for the program while in prison, the waitlist is often as large as 7,000 people and it is undeniable that recommendation from the Court holds greater weight than an application by an inmate.  For this reason, it is imperative that the defendant have a qualified and experienced attorney to bring his or her eligibility for RDAP to the Court’s attention

If you have any more questions about federal sentencing or the RDAP, contact our Columbus, Ohio federal defense attorney office today.

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78 Responses

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    1. I am a cop in a large city. I often considered what would heappn if the War on Drugs was called to an end. I can say I am probably in favor to ending it. That would make my job alot easier, thank you very much. Most cops get into trouble with the WoD. Chases, fights, injuries, shootings, complaints, lawsuits, imagined or real civil rights violations all stem from the WoD. With legal drugs, maybe cops too can smoke a joint and see what the hub bub is all about.However, deep down a cease fire will not solve the underlining problems. To legalize drugs means that accuiring drugs will be easier and probably incorporated in some way by Big Business, imagine a “CrackMart ™”. The Govt will probably have to issue licenses and regulate the “quality” of the narcotics to keep people high, not dead. To ensure profits, the pols and CrackMart will link up locking down the lic and reg’ing of the trade to themselves. However, many aggressive people rely on drug sales to financially compensate their lower social-economic status. These people will not just go away and “get a job”. These people do not fear death or jail. They will continue to sell on the street trying to undercut CrackMart, an extra dollar is still an extra dollar. The police will continue to chase them around, but now in the name of CrackMart. Addicts will still be addicts. They will still rob, steal and burgalize other people for money to feed their addiction. Not much will change.

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  31. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but a judicial order for RDAP is helpful but does not get a defendant into RDAP. The BOP has its own rules and regulations for RDAP admissions and you must meet those rules in order to get admitted and get the prison sentence reduction.

    In order to be admitted, you must have verifiable substance abuse documented in your PSI or you must be able to document it other ways such as medical, psychological, probation, etc. the abuse. You also have to pass a rigorous clinical interview with the Drug Abuse Program Coordinator at the prison which can be tricky. Please do your homework or you won’t get in.

  32. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but a judicial order for RDAP is helpful but does not get a defendant into RDAP. The BOP has its own rules and regulations for RDAP admissions and you must meet those rules in order to get admitted and get the prison sentence reduction.

    In order to be admitted, you must have verifiable substance abuse documented in your PSI or you must be able to document it other ways such as medical, psychological, probation, etc. the abuse. You also have to pass a rigorous clinical interview with the Drug Abuse Program Coordinator at the prison which can be tricky. Please do your homework or you won’t get in.

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