New York Federal Criminal Practice Blog
July 21, 2008

BOP's RDAP Program Over-Subscribed and Thus Under-Delivering Both in Treatment and Sentence Reduction

The BOP's 500-hour Residential Drug Abuse Program is the one corrections-based program in which BOP inmates can participate and receive time off their sentences (by statute, up to one year, 18 U.S.C. § 3621(e)).  The program, which has stringent eligibility criteria, is not surprisingly, widely popular.  Recent news indicates that it is so popular, there are long waiting lists, inmates are being denied admission unless they have sufficient time remaining on their sentences not just for completion of the program but also to out-last the waiting list, and inmates are receiving significantly less than the maximum one-year allowable sentence reduction.  In close cases, therefore, these developments should be cited to judges as grounds for imposing probationary sentences with non-BOP drug treatment rather than consigning a client to BOP custody for drug treatment that never materializes. 

From Richard Crane, Esq.: At a symposium in Washington last week held by the U.S. Sentencing Commission on sentencing alternatives, Beth Weinman, BOP's RDAP Coordinator, said that the average sentence reduction for inmates successfully completing the RDAP program is now 7.64 months.  She attributed this to the large numbers of inmates eligible for the program and the lack of money to expand the program. She estimates that 40% of the inmates in BOP custody have a diagnosable substance abuse problem and that there is an RDAP waiting list of 7,000 inmates.  Ms. Weinman also said that the BOP is working on a program statement to define exactly what documentations suffice to complement the Bureau's own diagnosis of an inmate's substance abuse problem. Typically, the presentence report or documentation from a treatment provider is acceptable proof, but what else might prove adequate varies from institution to institution. 

From Joel Sickler of Justice Advocacy Group, P.C.: There is also another issue emerging.  According to officials at the BOP's Designation and Sentence Computation Center (DSCC), inmates entering the system with a sentence yielding less than 24 months to serve cannot participate in RDAP. There is no published policy on this change. The DSCC claims it is a new "designation" policy not a "treatment" issue (again, unpublished) and the judiciary has been alerted to it.  Additional information is awaited.  In the meantime, if practitioners want to cite to this "policy" in sentencing letters, they should call the DSCC in Texas to confirm it.

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