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Preparation Prison Life After

06. Residential Drug & Alcohol Program (RDAP)


"Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way."

The Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) is a voluntary program that the Bureau of Prisons offers to inmates.  The program is a rigorous 500-hour individual and group therapy program for prisoners with documented substance abuse.   The RDAP addresses many areas which the BOP hopes will enhance your life.  This includes communication, relapse prevention, and achieving balance in your life.

Past studies have documented that prior to arrest or indictment, many have abused substances, alcohol and drugs, to deal with the pressures associated with the investigation and legal proceedings.  The program, if you apply yourself, can help you cope with the ups and downs of life without having to return to using a substance.

The program is organized into cohort classes and inmates in the program will live in a dormitory designated for RDAP.  The program lasts 9-12 months and in 2013 there were over 15,000 inmates participating in the program. 

RDAP is the only program in the Bureau of Prisons that has the ability to reduce the prison sentence imposed by a federal judge.  It also grants graduating participants 6 months of halfway house, so it can significantly reduce the amount of time an inmate serves.  The only other program that allowed for a reduction of sentence was the Intensive Confinement Center (Boot Camp) program, which was cancelled by Congress in 2005.

Not every prison has RDAP but currently 89 facilities do.

The RDAP is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which is a common type of mental health counseling (psychotherapy).  With CBT, you work with a mental health counselor (psychotherapist or therapist) in a structured way, attending a limited number of classes for instruction, group therapy and individual counseling sessions.  While some therapies such as this are used in conjunction with medication, this is not the case with RDAP as no medications, other than those prescribed separately by that institution physician, are a part of the RDAP programming.

In coordination with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the BOP conducted studies that have found the benefits of RDAP have been reduced recidivism and better social integration.

The overall duration of your sentence could also affect the amount of time deducted from your sentence.  Beginning in 2009, the BOP implemented a sliding scale to determine reductions in sentence that is dependent upon the length of the prison term.  The benefit of time off of a sentence can range from 0 months off up to a full 12 months.  The scale is as follows:

Any Good Time that you would have earned in the year off is also applied to your sentence reduction.  In addition to the time off, you will also get at least 6 months of halfway house.  So for example, you were sentenced to 41 months in prison, here is a realistic calculation of the affects of Good Time, Sentence Reduction and Halfway House will have on your time in prison:

Estimated Good Time:   5.2 Months (Sentence * 0.874)

RDAP Deduction:12.0 Months

Halfway House:  6.0 Months

This would yield approximately 18 Months in prison on a 41 month sentence.  So it is significant.