What is RDAP?
The Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) is a program in the federal prison system (Federal Bureau of Prisons) which attempts to educate federal inmates on the various methods of becoming and staying sober. It is one of the most intensive of any prison-based programs. It is thought that if inmates can refrain from drug use, they will pose a smaller threat of future criminal activity, and will be better inmates while they are still in prison. There is no Michigan, state prison RDAP program.
Prison employees involved with RDAP are highly trained and are trained on a continuous basis as new theories and treatment tactics are developed world-wide. The treatment program includes not just education about the ways to prevent relapse, but also involves job training, mental and physical health education and treatment, and familiarization with adjusting to a healthy, crime and drug free lifestyle. In short, the RDAP’s goal is to return inmates to society in as good a position as possible so that the inmate will have the basic positive skills necessary to enable them adjust to their re-entry into society smoothly and successfully.
Studies have shown that the all-volunteer RDAP has produced excellent results in line with their goals. The 500-hour, 9-month, 3.5-hour-per-day program is available to inmates who will be in prison for at least that long. In addition to learning valuable, perhaps life-saving skills, the inmates in RDAP who successfully graduate from the program are given a 1-year reduction in their sentences.
RDAP is composed of three individual stages. The first is the 500-hour program described above. The second stage is where the inmate has graduated from the first stage but is still an inmate in the prison. In this second stage, RDAP personnel understand that being in the prison general population is a high-risk situation for the inmate. Accordingly, the stage-one graduates are monitored carefully, and follow-up treatment sessions and activities are provided to the inmate.
The third stage of RDAP is after the inmate has been released to a half-way house or confined to a private home. This stage is known as the Transitional Drug Abuse Treatment (TDAT) stage. During this stage, the released inmate will attend group therapy sessions which groups normally are composed of other RDAP graduates.
How Does an Inmate Get Into RDAP?
As can be imagined, many inmates would like to get into RDAP. This fact caused a huge waiting list to develop, comprised of many thousands of inmates. In 2009, the qualifications for admission into RDAP were altered and significantly tightened, and now it is far harder to get into the program. Only about 10% of inmates who want to get in actually get admitted. So, the waiting list issue has been “resolved,” but only because far fewer inmates are now eligible.
It is important to know that certain documentation (a doctor’s diagnosis, repeated drug or alcohol-related convictions, documented withdrawal episodes, etc.) must end up in the possession of the RDAP screeners for an inmate to even be considered for the program. All applicants must have some kind of official, medical diagnosis for a substance use disorder; a “substantiated diagnosis for a substance use disorder.” Alcohol is considered a “drug” for purposes of RDAP. You do not have to be a convicted drug dealer or user to get admitted. There are certain crimes that will automatically disqualify an inmate, but if you have not committed one of those offenses (murder, arson, rape, kidnapping, etc.) and you are a documented, habitual substance user, and are within 48-60 months of release, you are eligible. There is no “right” to be admitted.
Can a Lawyer Help Get Me Into RDAP?
Yes, if you have the right lawyer. But even with a federal judge’s order to place you into RDAP, the order will simply be ignored by the Bureau of Prisons if your documentation does not establish that you have a substance use disorder. Inmates have headed off to serve their sentence, comfortable in their belief that their paperwork or the crime they were convicted of would surely be satisfactory to get into RDAP. Many inmates have been met with a regrettable surprise when they get to prison and are told that they are not eligible because the documentation of their substance use was either missing, not complete, or was inaccurate.
Some attorneys, naively, habitually wish to downplay the drug and alcohol issues their clients have, thinking it will help in getting a lighter, less onerous sentence. Therefore, many times a court file and presentence report will be missing valuable information about addiction that could greatly assist a person getting into RDAP. Ironically, attorneys who are unfamiliar with the rules regarding RDAP admission actually fight quite hard at times to keep addiction-related documentation out of the case, and the all-important case file. RDAP screeners rely heavily on the case file to determine whether to admit someone to RDAP.
An astute, well-seasoned criminal defense attorney will understand that in some cases, substance addiction should actually be emphasized. For instance, if an attorney knows that the client is going to do significant time in prison, and that the client has a substance abuse history, he or she should do everything possible to get as much documentation of the substance abuse issue into the case file and the presentence report.
The dedicated, experienced and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have the knowledge and expertise necessary to handle a case according to the best interests of the client, including laying the foundation for a smooth transition into programs such as RDAP. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.
“We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!“
– LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.