Sentencing Advocacy and Mitigation Specialists

RDAP and Alternative Sentencing Experts


Toll Free: (833) 416-8941


Q: What is the Residential Drug Abuse Program (a.k.a. RDAP)?

A: The RDAP program is a cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) program run by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) as passed into law by 18 U.S.C. § 3621 which directs the BOP to provide residential drug abuse treatment to eligible federal inmates. RDAP is an all voluntary 500-hour 9-month program run at roughly 60+ federal prisons throughout the United States. Successful graduates are given up to a one-year reduction in sentence for early release and an increase to 6 month halfway house/home confinement.

Q: Can the RDAP program benefit state prisoners as well?

A: No, the RDAP program is only available for federal BOP inmates in federal prisons.

Q: How does a participant successfully graduate from the RDAP program in order to get the sentence reduction and early release?

A: You have to complete all three phases of the RDAP program successfully in order to get the sentence reduction and early release. The first phase, usually the most rigorous phase, is the unit-based component comprised of 500-hour worth of therapy lasting approximately 9 months. This “Group Therapy” lasts 3.5 hours daily and occurs during the morning or afternoon sessions. The RDAP program has higher priority than any BOP work or educational assignments. When completed, you will receive a certificate of completion of RDAP at the end of this phase. The second phase is considered the follow-up care that you receive if you have not yet been sent to the halfway house. Some graduates complete the RDAP program with time left on their sentence. While still in the general prison population, follow-up services comprise of weekly group sessions and assignments. The last and third phase, Transitional drug abuse treatment (or TDAT) lasts normally six months and occurs at the halfway house and during home confinement. TDAT normally comprises of weekly group therapy sessions with other former RDAP graduates and may include weekly assignments.

Q: What is the wait-list like for the RDAP program?

A: In the past since 2008, the wait-list has been as high as 7,000 inmates and few inmates were receiving their full time off due to the wait. Today, after new admissions eligibility rules were put in place in March 2009, most RDAP facilities have no wait list and inmates are receiving their full sentence reduction for early release. This is due to the much more stringent admissions rules for RDAP eligibility put in place and fewer than 10% of RDAP applicants now are getting in, based on our unofficial sampling at some institutions. A judge’s order for RDAP is only a recommendation and inmates must still meet all eligibility requirements in order for admissions. The vast majority of inmates with a judge’s orders for RDAP are routinely disregarded by the BOP since the inmate does not have the requisite documentation. Indeed, many inmates come to prison thinking they are eligible only to find out that their substance abuse documentation is incomplete or incorrect. By then, it is too late to change. Not surprising, the majority of all applicants fall in this category and become very bitter when they are rejected. Please make sure you work with your attorney to make sure everything is correct.

Q: When can you start the RDAP program, once admitted?

A: Although each RDAP facility is run slightly different, normally you must be within 48 – 60 months of release in order to apply to RDAP. Once admitted, your start date depends on the wait list with priority given to those inmates with an earlier out date. As of 2012, due to the more stringent RDAP eligibility and admissions guidelines, most inmates are starting early and are receiving their full sentence reduction for early release.

Q: Do I have to sell or use drugs to get into RDAP?

A: No, a drug crime is not a deciding factor in getting into the RDAP program. Rather, you must meet the following: You have a verifiable substance use disorder within 12 months prior to your arrest or indictment whichever is earlier You volunteer and sign program admissions documents You have sufficient time left in your sentence to complete the program You are able to complete all three phases of the RDAP program and possess the mental ability to do so. You must be able to be sent to a halfway house and therefore, those with detainers, ICE/INS detainees, or military inmates are not eligible. If you are eligible for the RDAP program but are not approved to get the time off, you may still graduate from RDAP and at least receive the extended 6 month halfway house/home confinement.

Q: How can an inmate apply to RDAP?

A: You can be referred to the program by BOP staff or you may directly apply with the Drug Abuse Program Coordinator (DAPC) at the institution. The DAPC will ascertain if you: Have enough time left on your sentence Have the mental and language (English) ability to complete the program Have documented a verifiable substance abuse use disorder within 12-months prior to your initial arrest or indictment

Q: How does RDAP define that I have substance use disorder?

A: You have a disorder when your use of a controlled substance is more than just social or recreational and meets the definition as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the Mental Disorders, Fourth Addition (DSM-IV). This definition shows a pattern of dependence and abuse as follows: Continued use despite family, school, work, or legal problems or failed obligations Increased tolerance to the substance requiring more to get the same effect Withdrawal symptoms Failure at attempts to quit Put in dangerous situations due to substance abuse or intoxication

Q: What is a verifiable substance use disorder?

A: Admissions into RDAP requires verifiable documentation of your substance abuse disorder and can come from any one of these: Presentence Report (PSR) Notes or letters from medical or mental health professional(s), substance abuse treatment providers, probation or parole officer, or social worker Two or more DUI’s or DWI’s within five years of your most recent arrest or indictment If these documents are not already in your BOP file, you may have them sent directly from the provider to the DAPC. Understandably, no documentation will be accepted directly from you. The BOP will call and verify that the documentation is genuine. A judge’s recommendation is insufficient for admissions but certainly can be helpful along with medical records from the BOP’s Health Services. In some cases, the BOP has ruled that an inmate, although having a verifiable substance abuse disorder, is in “remission” if he has not used drugs or alcohol within the 12 months prior to his initial arrest or indictment. If you are facing incarceration, you should contact us immediately to help properly document your verifiable substance use disorder to guarantee your RDAP eligibility, admissions, and sentence reduction for early release.

Q: How difficult is the RDAP Clinical Interview?

A: You will be interviewed by the institution’s Drug Abuse Program Coordinator (DAPC) once you apply and have documents in your central file verifying your substance use. The interview can be rigorous and include your history with substance abuse as defined in the DSM-IV and your desire and agreement for all the treatment terms and conditions.

Q: Which prisons have the RDAP program?

A: Not all federal prisons have the RDAP program. Click here for the most update RDAP Facilities List.

Q: What if I am at a prison that does not have the RDAP program?

A: Not all federal prisons have the RDAP program. Once admitted into RDAP by Psychology Services staff at your current prison, you will be transferred to another prison that does have the program. This may require that your security level be lowered before the transfer is allowed and from our experience, management variables are given frequently for this to happen by the BOP. You may be eligible to start the RDAP program, but you’ll have to wait for your transfer which may take several months and cut into your valuable time off. If you are in this situation, be sure to factor in this extra time and apply to RDAP earlier.

Q: Can I be kicked out of RDAP or quit?

A: Yes and it does occur too frequently. The RDAP program requires strict adherence to the rules and punishes rule-breaking or bad behavior. You will be given at least one written warning and receive a therapeutic intervention before this happens. The exception is if you break the gravest rules, considered to be 100 or 200-level incident reports (a.k.a. shots) for things such as drinking, smoking, stealing, fighting, or escape or if you break confidentiality about the RDAP program. RDAP is a voluntary program and of course, you may quit at any time and for any reason. Some reasons may be that the program is too stressful or you are not getting the sentence reduction for early release.

Q: What happens if I get kicked out or withdraw from RDAP?

A: You will be immediately transferred out of the RDAP unit and may receive some sanctions such as loss of furloughs, vacations, and halfway house time.

Q: Can I re-apply into RDAP after I get kicked out or quit?

A: Yes, after a 90 day wait period. We have found that in most instances, re-application is encouraged and successful, but you will be starting all over again and therefore, lose any time that you already put in originally.

Q: How much time will I get off?

A: The following is the amount of sentence reduction for early release:

  • If your sentence is 30 months or less, you get 6 months sentence reduction.
  • If your sentence is 31–36 months, you get 9 months sentence reduction.
  • If your sentence is 37 or more months, you get 12 months sentence reduction.

Note: In addition to the sentence reductions listed above, all RDAP graduates are entitled to a minimum of 6-months of community custody awards.

Patrick Boyce Federal Mitigation Specialist at NCIA is an expert in the field of prison consulting and a 2003 graduate of the RDAP program. Successful RDAP eligibility, admissions and support maximizes ones chances of a sentence reduction and early release. Timing is critical with the ever changing and complex requirements surrounding what documentation is deemed acceptable for RDAP admission, it is extremely important to contact us as early in the process as possible. For a free no-obligation case analysis contact Patrick now!

Contact Patrick Now for
a Free Consultation

National Center on Institutions and Alternatives

We accept all forms of payment


Call Patrick:        (833) 416-8941
Email Patrick:

Disclosure Statement: We are not a law firm. Having a consultation with our associates does not and will not establish a legal relationship. Nothing on this page or associated pages, documents, e-mails, comments, reports, articles or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. If you have a legal question, please contact an experienced federal attorney.

Copyright© 2017 National Center on Institutions and Alternatives. All Rights Reserved. Website and SEO provided by Marketing 360®