What You Need to Know About RDAP

If you’ve been sentenced to federal prison, you may have heard about the residential drug addiction program (RDAP). This program is intended to help inmates with addictions recover and prepare them for their new lives. It offers multiple benefits, including the ability to trim time off of a sentence.

However, RDAP isn’t for everyone. It will likely have a firm schedule, and many people find it challenging to enter. Here’s what you need to know about RDAP, its benefits and drawbacks, and how to request placement in this programs. 

What Is RDAP?

An RDAP is a months-long residential program focused on helping inmates with addictions recover and learn new coping skills. People in RDAP generally live separately from the general prison population. They live with other RDAP members and follow a firm daily schedule that involves drug abuse treatment activities, prison work, or educational programs. The programs usually last six to twelve months and include 500 hours of addiction treatment. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of RDAPs

The biggest benefit of participating in RDAP is having your sentence shortened. According to the federal Bureau of Prisons, completing RDAP allows for the following sentence reductions:

  • Sentences of 30 months or less may be shortened by six months
  • Sentences of 31-37 months may be shortened by up to nine months
  • Sentences of 37 months or longer may be reduced by 12 months

These programs do have drawbacks, however. Compared to general population inmates, RDAP participants face a much busier schedule. If you participate in an RDAP, you are expected to attend drug abuse classes for several hours most days. The rest of your day will involve additional time attending other educational programs or performing prison work. This is intended to give participants structure and teach good work habits, but it is also significantly busier than many general population schedules at minimum security prisons. 

This may mean that the program isn’t worthwhile. If your sentence is less than two years long, an RDAP may make your experience less enjoyable without reducing your sentence significantly. It may be more comfortable to remain in the general population with a less strict schedule.

In addition, RDAPs often have months-long waiting lists. Even if you’re eligible, you may not get placed in one of these programs for months or years if your facility is particularly crowded.

Who Is Eligible for RDAP?

Residential drug abuse programs are used in federal prisons. That means only people in a federal institution even have access to them. State prisons and county jails do not offer RDAP, so people sentenced to these locations are not eligible. State prisons may have similar programs, but it varies bully location. You can read a complete list of all facilities with RDAPs on the BOP website.

In addition, RDAP is intended for people with substance abuse problems. To be eligible, you must have a verifiable history of drug or alcohol abuse within a year of your charges. You must have a history of substance abuse, including prescription drugs. You’ll need to work with your doctor to provide documentation that you’ve abused substances or you may not be considered. 

Some convictions may make you ineligible for RDAP. For instance, certain violent or sexual convictions are excluded from consideration for RDAP. Finally, only inmates with 24 months or more remaining in their sentence are eligible to begin RDAP.

Get Help Entering an RDAP

If you want to pursue placement in an RDAP, it’s best to prepare from the moment you’re arrested or receive a target letter. Program coordinators will use your Pre-Sentencing Report (PSR) to determine your eligibility for RDAP. They will look for a history of substance abuse that has negatively impacted your life to decide whether you should be admitted. 

You can work with a sentencing advocate to ensure your PSR includes this information. Your advocate will help you revise the PSR to include details about your substance use habits and their impact on your life. They can also help you gather supporting evidence, such as medical records or testimony from your doctor. The best time to prepare your request to enter an RDAP is today. At Liberty Advisors, we’re prepared to help you with your PSR and support you as you pursue a shorter sentence. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help.


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