Sentencing Advocacy and Mitigation Specialists

RDAP and Alternative Sentencing Experts


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What is RDAP?



A Sad But Too Often True RDAP Story

David was sentenced to 37-months in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion. After his plea, thinking he could handle everything on his own David made a number of critical mistakes, including going into his pre sentence investigation (PSI) unprepared. The fact of the matter is David unknowingly harmed himself by making inaccurate disclosures based on the common misconception that this would make him look more favorable to the judge and instead of him being able to get the treatment he needed while in custody and earning a sentence reduction that could have had him back home where he belongs in 14-months, David failed to qualify and ended up having to serve 28-months in federal prison; doubling his time served.

Too many offenders like David have to live with regret and end up serving unnecessary time because they fail to properly prepare for the PSI, sentencing, federal prison and position themselves for beneficial programs like the RDAP. Don’t become another statistic; take an active role in your defense and get advice from experienced professionals. First and foremost, in concert with counsel we do everything in our power to prevent our clients from ever seeing the inside of a federal prison. However, in those cases where a prison term cannot be avoided, we make sure that our clients serve their sentence at the best facility given their individual needs, while at the same time providing the greatest opportunity for early release.

I count my greatest attribute as being the only federal sentencing and prison consultant who has personally experienced every aspect of the federal criminal justice system from indictment, trial and sentencing through incarceration, prison programs, supervised release, and the rebuilding of life after a period of incarceration. I promise to not only prepare you and your loved ones for what lies ahead but also be with you every step of the way and never leave your side!

– Patrick Boyce (RDAP Graduate, 2003)

40-Year History of Proven Success

An Overview Of The Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program

If you are a federal offender and have a verifiable substance abuse problem, there’s good news.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) provides a very specialized program, which offers eligible offenders additional time off, beyond “good time”, from your sentence. It’s called the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP). The program is a little over 8 months long, consisting of 500 total programming hours, 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. It is the only current program, which provides federal inmates with a sentence reduction. As of 2015, RDAP is available for all security levels. It has been shown to be successful at reducing recidivism, relapse, and prison misconduct.

Upon successful completion of RDAP, eligible inmates will benefit by earning:

  • An early release from federal prison in the form of a sentence reduction of up to 12 months
  • Plus 6 months stay in a halfway house and/or home confinement placement at the end of their sentence

Home confinement starts when the inmate reaches the last ten percent of their sentence 18 U.S.C § 3621(e).

Early release amount depends on the originally imposed sentence length:

  • Inmates serving 37 months or more are eligible for up to 12 months of early release, plus 6 months of community custody
  • Inmates serving 31-36 months are eligible up to 9 months of early release, plus 6 months of community custody
  • Inmates serving 30 months or less are eligible up to 6 months of early release, plus 6 months of community custody

Inmates Not Eligible for Early Release

Inmates are not eligible for early release (even if they completed RDAP) under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e) if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees
  • Pretrial inmates (defendants who have not yet been sentenced)
  • State or military prisoners
  • D.C. offenders who committed their crimes before August 5, 2000
  • Federal prisoners who committed their crimes before November 1, 1987
  • Inmates with prior felonies or misdemeanors for homicide, forcible rape, robbery, arson, kidnapping, aggravated assault, or child sexual abuse offenses
  • Prisoners currently serving time for a felony crime that:
    • Has as an element of actual, attempted, or threatened use of physical force
    • Involved the carrying, possession, or use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon or explosives
    • By its nature or conduct presents a serious potential risk of physical force against the person or property of another
    • By its nature or conduct involves sexual abuse offenses actually committed upon or intended to be committed upon children
  • Inmates with firearm convictions and inmates who have received a two level adjustment in their drug guideline offense severity score for possession of a dangerous weapon (including a firearm) pursuant to Section 2D1.1 (b) (1) of the U.S. Sentencing Guides are also ineligible for early release
  • Prisoners who aren’t eligible for placement in a halfway house or on home confinement
  • Prisoners who already received the RDAP sentence reduction for completing the RDAP while serving a previous prison term (i.e. – if a person was in federal prison before, completed the RDAP, and got the RDAP reduction, then was released, reoffended, and returned to federal prison, the prisoner will not get the RDAP sentence reduction for completing the RDAP during their second prison term); and
  • D.C. Code offenders sentenced for a “crime of violence” under D.C. Code § 23-1331(4).


In order to be considered eligible for the Residential Drug Abuse Program an inmate should meet at least one of the following three eligibility criteria:

  • The Presentence Report (PSR) documents a substance abuse problem in the 12-month period prior to arrest for the instant offense.
  • Alcohol or other drug use was a reason for violation of either supervised release or community custody (halfway house or home confinement) for which the inmate is now incarcerated.
  • The inmate was recommended for the RDAP at the time of sentencing by the sentencing judge.

Although defendants who meet none of the three conditions outlined above are still eligible for Residential Drug Abuse Program consideration, the task of documenting their eligibility becomes far more difficult and will require a significantly more detailed Residential Drug Abuse Program admissions process (which may significantly delay admission to the program, as well as, possibly cause the loss of significant sentence reduction time). It should also be noted that, as with many Bureau of Prisons programs, there is a distinct difference between eligibility and reality.

To qualify, an inmate must:

  • Have a documented pattern of substance abuse in the 12 months prior to arrest for which they are serving their current sentence;
  • Be able to complete all phases of RDAP, including community transition services; and
  • Be diagnosed by the Drug Abuse Program Coordinator as having a drug use disorder as defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).

Policy Changes

Effective March 16, 2009, the BOP made significant policy changes relating to drug treatment programs. The changes affecting inmate eligibility can be found in Program Statement (P.S.) 5331.02 and P.S. 5330.11 include:

  • The new policy states explicitly what documents the BOP will consider in reviewing an inmate for RDAP. Examples of accepted documentation include documents from a parole or probation officer or social worker which document problems with substance abuse within the last 12 months prior to arrest or commission of offense; documents from a treatment provider who diagnosed the inmate with substance abuse disorder within the 12 month period prior to the inmate’s arrest or offense; and multiple convictions for driving under the influence within five years prior to arrest.
  • The new policy also outlines an inmate’s recourse in the event that there is no verifying information in the presentence report or central file. The inmate may have a substance abuse treatment provider who diagnosed the inmate with substance abuse send documentation directly to the BOP. The document must have been written at the time services were provided and must demonstrate a substance use diagnosis and treatment. An inmate can also have the BOP verify their substance abuse problem by consenting to medical staff to verify physical evidence of addictions such as track marks or detoxification after entering the prison.
  • Review of prior and current offenses for eligibility in RDAP and early release are no longer conducted in the regional or in the institutional legal offices but by the legal staff at the Designation and Sentence Computation Center (DSCC), in Grand Prairie, Texas.
  • Inmates with a prior conviction of arson or kidnapping are no longer eligible for early release.
  • Of significant note, the new policy makes clear that an inmate can be sent to any available institution for RDAP, regardless of distance from home.

Next, the inmate must voluntarily sign a treatment contract and meet formal psychological diagnostic criteria. The Drug Abuse Program Coordinator (DAPC) will perform a clinical interview. The DAPC will also review the official background documents that support the diagnosis (such as PSR). Additionally, the inmate must not have any mental disorder that may interfere with RDAP participation.

Even if there is documentation in the inmate’s central file, a substance abuse or dependency disorder may not be diagnosed by the DAPC. In which case, the inmate is considered ineligible.

For obvious reasons, the RDAP is in great demand and almost every incoming inmate will apply, but only small percentages are actually admitted.

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!

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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.

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