When I began this journey through the federal criminal justice system, I was asked more than once, "Don't you have a drug or alcohol problem?" "Are you sure you don't have a drug or alcohol problem?" Fortunately or unfortunately I didn't, so I was not a candidate for the Residential Drug Abuse Program offered by the Bureau of Prisons for those with substance abuse or addiction problems during the year prior to arrest. For those inmates who do successfully complete the 9 month, 500 hour treatment program, a one year sentence reduction plus 6 more months of halfway house can be earned.
About 15,000 nonviolent inmates, nearly 10% of the current federal inmate population, participated in RDAP last year. I've talked to every inmate here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp who has completed the program. Without exception, they say it's thorough, demanding, and helpful. I know inmates who have taken or plan to take the program knowing they won't qualify for the sentence reduction. They do this simply because they believe it will help them. Taught by psychologists, it appears to be one of the few things the BOP does well.
You may have read that a federal grand jury in Connecticut recently indicted 3 prison consultants, managing partners of RDAP Law Consultants, for allegedly coaching ineligible would-be inmates on how to get into the program, even telling them to show up to prison drunk and fake withdrawal symptoms. While I'm sure isolated abuse happens, I'm also sure federal prosecutors have done their best to make this look like a huge nationwide scam run by prison consultants to make their case appear more significant and career enhancing. This may surprise some, but federal prosecutors and investigators sometimes embellish the facts and the press is too lazy to pick up on it.
I can only say that, based on my experience, RDAP is well-run and not abused. It represents the kind of programming that the BOP should be doing.