RDAP Program Details



A. Modified Therapeutic Community


The Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program (RDAP) at the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is a Modified Therapeutic Community. This treatment community stems from the belief that living in an environment where certain goals are expected by not only staff, but peers is a powerful form of therapy. Peer support is critical to the community and your treatment. The very nature of the community requires that a great deal of interaction and sharing of issues take place in a public manner.


Participants are expected to share personal information about themselves and their past in front of the community to assist themselves and others in the change process. Participants are also expected to help each other by holding each other accountable for unacceptable behavior in private and in public. Community discussions are viewed as crucial to successful treatment. These meetings can be positive, intense, confrontational and challenging. Peers may, at times, provide support and encouragement to each other and at other times intense confrontation.


In short, we believe that just as addicts get other people addicted to drugs, recovering addicts can help other addicts off drugs and into recovery. We also believe that people do not change because they see the light, but because they feel the heat. The professional staff work closely with inmates in the community to create a positive and caring atmosphere, whereby residents can exert peer influence among each other to make meaningful life changes and build a support program of recovery over addiction.


B. Small Groups


This program utilizes a “Small Group” which provides for each inmate the opportunity to share his challenges in recovery with his fellow participants on a more intimate level. In sharing, he learns there is nothing he has experienced that has not been encountered by other group members. He also has a chance to practice new skills learned in module groups. The group serves as a “reality check” of attitudes and behavior which support recovery are immediately reinforced, while attitudes and behavior which signal a relapse receive equally immediate scrutiny. Through the various groups offered as part of treatment, the community helps support a program of recovery for each inmate on the unit.


C. Module Groups


The program also places an emphasis on learning skills and putting these skills into action. Module groups are designed to assist participants in learning critical thinking and problem solving skills (Rational Thinking); anger management, communication and interpersonal skills (Living with Others); skills to avoid relapse in high risk situations that lead to drug use (Recovery Maintenance); a weighing of the costs and benefits of the criminal lifestyle and values that resulted in incarceration and victimization of others (Criminal Lifestyles); an intense exploration of the pain that participants cause others (Victim Empathy); skills to obtain employment (Employment Readiness); and the development of a balanced lifestyle which includes physical, emotional and spiritual avenues to cope with stress (Lifestyle Balance). In addition to the aforementioned modules, participants engage in Personal Responsibility and Teaming. Personal Responsibility involves weekly formal cleaning of the housing unit. Teaming allows for peers to formally team each participant to assist each participant in identifying issues that are in need of change.


D. Self-Help Groups


In addition to the skills that are taught in RDAP, we support the Twelve Steps groups and SMART Recovery as valuable components of the recovery process. The Twelve Step model is consistent with the goals of the community; namely, to help addicts build a program of recovery from drugs and alcohol. Some participants choose to immediately reject AA and NA as a result of the spiritual component of these programs and/or as a result of the fact that these programs subscribe to the disease model of addiction. The disease model assumes that you are powerless over your addiction. The disease model can conflict with the bio-psychosocial model that is utilized in RDAP which asserts that although there are many factors (genetics, personality, societal influences, family environment, etc.) that contributed to one’s addiction, the individual is ultimately responsible for all the choices made in his life.


Despite the differences, AA, GA, NA, and SMART Recovery can be used as a support system for a participant in his recovery. Upon release, self-help meetings are readily available to anyone who wishes to attend. Therefore, it is useful for participants to find a way to incorporate this into their recovery. Treatment staff and peers will provide guidance in assisting participants to incorporate self-help groups into your treatment program These meetings can provide unconditional support in a time of crisis when a participant is in society and does not have peers or community professionals readily available to him.


E. A Typical Treatment Day


A typical treatment day begins with a Community Meeting followed by a treatment activity. Treatment activities include 1) Personal Responsibility – where participants take initiative for cleaning their units; 2) Teaming – where participants publicly evaluate another participant’s progress in treatment; 3) Small group, a psychotherapy group; or 4) Module groups.


F. Phases I, II, and III


Phase I is approximately three months in length. It begins with a two to three week orientation period. Community members participate in structured activities under the direction of treatment staff, who critically examine their motivation for treatment. This is also a time for participants to develop an understanding of the importance and power of the treatment community. Participants meet with their primary Drug Treatment Specialist (DTS), who then formulates an individualized treatment plan. Each participant should direct questions about his treatment to his primary DTS and should only attempt to speak to another staff member about his issue at the direction of his primary DTS. This serves to minimize confusion and assures that treatment is coordinated by one individual. Participants engage in module groups, small group therapy, community meetings and evaluation as determined by their DTS.


In Phase I, participants must demonstrate their commitment and motivation to change their drug seeking behavior and criminal thinking. Participants who have not decided to stop using drugs or engaging in behaviors indicative of criminal thinking will not begin treatment. Participants will be given direct feedback during Phase I about whether their behavior or behaviors are indicative of recovery. If an individual does not wish to change his lifestyle, he will not be permitted to continue in treatment.


Phases II and III are each approximately three months in length. Participants continue to participate in all module groups, small group therapy, community meetings, and evaluation. Participants in Phases II and III of the Residential Drug Abuse Program must have demonstrated to staff a commitment to change. It is very important for participants in these Phases to continue to develop a program of recovery that is demonstrated in their thinking, behavior, attitude, and respect towards others. Participants will be given constant feedback about their progress. More precise and concrete feedback will be given every 60 days via 60-day reviews. Participants who perform poorly may meet with the entire treatment team in a formal meeting and their DTS individually to develop a specific plan for improvement. More often, participants will meet with the Community to include Senior Peer Assistants, and/or the Treatment Team to be confronted with the problematic behavior.


G. Small Group Rules


Small group is a place for you to discuss issues on a more personal level as well as a place to try out new behaviors. It is a “lab” to practice and to work through important issues with the hope that you will one day be able to bring up these issues to the larger groups. Group works best when there is trust and support.


  • Be on time
  • Minimize call outs. The group suffers when a member is absent. Make every effort to avoid having call-outs during group time. When you are absent from group, you need to explain your absence upon your return.
  • Take care of your personal business before and after group, not during group, i.e. no drinks of water, bathroom breaks.
  • If you talk with another group member, the facilitator, or other treatment staff about the group, bring this back to the group.
  • Be attentive, i.e. no yawning, writing, drawing, slouching, side conversations, and no note passing.
  • Be respectful of others. Take turns when talking and do not stand up while you are talking.
  • Sit as a group, i.e. chairs should be in a circle with no empty chairs between you and another member.
  • Do not bring books or papers to group.
  • Be a responsible participant – You get out of the group what you put into it, so you need to participate.
  • This is not a time to ask the facilitator questions. This is a time for you to ask the group questions. The most important aspects of the groups are the process of what is going on in the here-and-now, and your relationship with your group members.
  • Confidentiality is an important part of the group that is sometimes difficult for members of a treatment community to understand. Confidentiality is not absolute. If staff feel there is a risk that you will harm yourself, someone else, or that there is a threat to the security of the institution this will be reported to necessary staff. Reports of child abuse or the abuse of a vulnerable adult will also be reported to the local authorities. Staff will not, however, discuss your small group issues with individuals who do not have a clinical or custodial need to know.

All members of the community are an important part of the change process, so the small group is not a place to “hide out” from the community. The belief, “What is said in group stays in group” is NOT ACCURATE for this small group. This does not mean that you can gossip or discuss details of your group with anyone; it means that you respectfully use information to help others. You may speak specifically about your own issues that you have discussed in small group, but you can not speak about someone else’s specific issues that they discussed during small group. You may speak about patterns that you have seen from individuals in larger groups when it is appropriate.


You may not, however, discuss other group members’ specific, personal information that is discussed in small group. Here is an example of a violation of confidentiality: “I think this is a result of you being abused as a child.” However, you could instead say, “I think this is a result of some of the issues that you have struggled with in small group.” Additionally, if there are general underlying issues of anger or trust it may be helpful to point this out and you would not be expressly violating confidentiality. When a clear pattern has developed, it is important and helpful for you to point this out. For example, if a participant has a clear pattern of a behavior, such as anger, that is obvious to most others it is not a violation of confidentiality to state , “This is the same kind of angry outbursts that you have demonstrated during small group.”



RDAP Law and Prison Consultants specialize in successful RDAP eligibility, admissions, and support for the maximum sentence reduction possible for early release.  We take most cases on contingency, which means we will get you success or there is no fee. Your success is our success.  Timing is important and with the complex requirements surrounding what documentation are deemed acceptable, it’s important to seek consultation immediately. Call us now!

Write a comment


  • Yvette Robinson (Tuesday, January 08 13 09:54 am EST)

    I think your program should be open to both federal and state inmates, I live in Virginia how could. I start a program in my State. My fiancée has had a substance abuse problem in the past. He
    stopped using but still has a drug user's personality

  • Cliff Wimberly (Sunday, March 10 13 08:38 am EDT)

    Yvette, we found most states have similar substance abuse programs. Please check that out on the state's correction center's website. Call us if you are having trouble with that.

  • Mrs Demps (Friday, November 29 13 10:55 pm EST)

    I understand the necessity for accountability, structure and confidentially, however, I have been with my fiancé for over a year and since his acceptance I had not been out to visit. Upon visiting I
    have learned that our relationship is being psychoanalyzed and the counselors are being professionally negligent in telling him to cut me a loose . This coming after we just buried his mother 1 month
    before he started the program and I being the only support system he has. Isn't a goal of the program too also build positive sustaining relationships??

  • Cliff Wimberly (Tuesday, December 10 13 02:31 pm EST)

    Yes, it is a goal of the program to build positive relationships. For some reason, your relationship with him is deemed negative, most likely due to his own fault (not yours). There are things going
    on here that you are unaware of.

  • S Kennedy (Friday, February 07 14 04:30 pm EST)

    How many months does it take to finish the program?

  • Cliff Wimberly (Friday, February 07 14 06:30 pm EST)

    S Kennedy, it's a 9-month program and runs about 3.5 hours per week day which comes out to be 500 hours total.

  • S Kennedy (Sunday, February 09 14 02:42 pm EST)

    Is the time for the halfway house included in the 500 hours also

  • Anh Nguyen (Sunday, February 23 14 09:16 am EST)

    S Kennedy, no it is not. There is 500-hours worth of class time. Halfway house and home confinement is typically another 6 months.

  • Anna Maria Trevino (Thursday, April 24 14 02:41 pm EDT)

    My husband has done more than half his time already.. .after the program is completed is he automatically sent to the halfway House?

  • Cliff Wimberly (Thursday, April 24 14 04:42 pm EDT)

    Anna, normally he would be automatically sent to the halfway house unless he still has some time left to do even after receiving the reduction.

  • Ash (Saturday, September 13 14 08:23 am EDT)

    My brother is currently in the program. He has a misdemeanor wreckless endangerment on his record from previous that is not related to his federal case. Will this keep him from getting the sentence

  • Anh Nguyen (Monday, September 15 14 10:43 am EDT)

    Ash, we are not going to no for sure until the BOP gets back to him. Without reviewing your brother's case in detail, it's really hard for me to say. If I would guess, I would say no.

  • Sue White (Thursday, October 16 14 12:04 am EDT)

    My husband is self reporting in a couple of months, 2003 he was convicted on having a guns being a convicted felony. He is charge with consp to dist meth he has been addict all his life will he get
    time reduction off doing rdap

  • chris taylor (Friday, January 09 15 12:46 am EST)

    does a 2d1.1 gun enhancement preclude an RDAP participant from getting the year off. gun was on the nightstand it was not activily employed in the offense..

  • Anh Nguyen (Tuesday, January 20 15 08:55 am EST)

    chris, Yes, unfortunately in most cases, a gun enhancement will preclude the year off.

  • Sarah Huck (Tuesday, February 24 15 03:10 pm EST)

    what is the breakdown of the hours in the program? out of the 500 how many hours are for individual
    group counseling
    group edudation
    driver-related education
    group therapy

  • Anh Nguyen (Sunday, March 01 15 10:38 am EST)

    Sarah - here is the approximate breakdown:

    individual - 5%
    small group counseling - 30%
    group education - 20%
    driver-related education - 0%
    large group therapy - 45%

  • Lisa (Sunday, March 29 15 06:19 am EDT)

    Hello. You have mention several times the RDAP's are kept in their own area. Do you have any contact with the other inmates? I'm asking because I have a friend in prison camp but will not be taking
    the program. Thanks

  • Anh Nguyen (Tuesday, March 31 15 10:32 pm EDT)

    Lisa - RDAP inmates are kept in their own dormitory. They do come in contact with other inmates however outside their dormitory (ie. recreation, mainline, eduction, work assignments, etc.). RDAp
    inmates will be wearing some kind of insignia such as a lanyard or pin, to set the apart from the rest of the inmate population.

  • rachel collett (Monday, October 26 15 12:16 am EDT)

    I live in ga. My husband is facing traffic. Meth state charges. Can I get help

  • Anh Nguyen (Wednesday, October 28 15 01:05 pm EDT)

    Rachel - I am sorry to say that this program is only for federal charges.

  • Mrs. Morais (Monday, November 02 15 06:06 pm EST)

    My step-father does not speak English, is there any possibility that he could signup into the program?

  • Anh Nguyen (Tuesday, November 03 15 09:22 pm EST)

    Mrs. Morais, there are RDAP programs done in Spanish in Miami. He does not have to speak English very well at all and still do the program. However, he needs to be able to at least communicate his
    ideas across.

  • Jessica (Thursday, May 19 16 10:35 pm EDT)

    My husband started the RDAP program in the beginning of May 2016, when will his projected release date change on the bop websites to include his reduction?

  • Maria (Monday, June 27 16 05:15 pm EDT)

    Do the inmate need to know how to read and write to do this RDAP?

  • Anh Nguyen (Thursday, July 28 16 06:02 pm EDT)

    Jessica - you will see the project release date change after 30 to 60 days starting RDAP so really soon!

  • Anh Nguyen (Thursday, July 28 16 06:03 pm EDT)

    Maria - yes, at about a 5th grade level. There are reading and writing assignments that has to be completed. However, they are very simple.

  • Ciearra Moody (Wednesday, August 31 16 08:19 pm EDT)

    My boyfriend was sentenced to 60 months. He has no criminal record. The judge stated she will put in a recommendation for him to be accepted in Rdap. Will the get him in quickly what are the chances
    of him getting in. Are there any other time cuts in federal prison

  • Anh Nguyen (Tuesday, September 20 16 04:13 pm EDT)

    Ciearra - the recommendation unfortunately carries no weight with the BOP. He may be able to get in if he can produce the correct documentation and pass the interview. There may be other programs out

  • Payasa (Tuesday, August 08 17 10:10 pm EDT)

    I wanted to know if an inmate don't know how to read or write will there be people to help him?

  • Nichole Greene (Wednesday, September 13 17 10:49 am EDT)

    Payasa, yes there will be other RDAP inmates that will help. However, you must have at least a rudimentary level of reading and writing skills in order to get admissions.

  • April (Saturday, October 21 17 01:42 pm EDT)

    I graduated from the RDAP program while I was in Bryan Texas Federal Prison Camp. It was the best thing I could have done for myself. I have recently relapsed, but with the tools I learned I have been able to recognize where my thought process changed that lead to my relapse. I am clean again a had a valuable learning experience. I recommend the RDAP program for anyone, even if you don't get time off your sentence. It's the best gift you can give yourself.

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