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Updated: Jan 25

This is the most detailed explanation of RDAP I have seen. It will continue to grow as I add info from other participants.

(If you want more details I would encourage you to read my Newsletters, where RDAP is featured extensively). 

Residential Drug & Alcohol Program (RDAP) is a 500 hour residential program.  You need all of the 500 hours to graduate & get the 6, 9, or 12 months off your sentence (how much time you get off depends on your sentence length)

In RDAP you are housed separately I from the general population, and participate in 9-11 months of intensive rehabilitation, self-help and peer groups, drug-abuse education classes and professional counseling.

The question most people ask is how do I get into RDAP? I HOPE YOUR ATTORNEY ADVISES YOU ON THIS.  The simple version is you need to have a DOCUMENTED substance abuse problem.  It’s most likely a part (or contributed to your crime) and the judge will see this and determine if you qualify for RDAP (it can’t be substance abuse 10 years prior)….or if he wants to honor your request to send you to a camp that has one.  This is not a guarantee you get in.  The DAPC (Dr. who runs the RDAP program at your camp will interview and determine that)

People advising you will tell you to take RDAP to get time off your sentence. What they fail to mention is that RDAP is actually a big obligation (Time wise & personal toll). In addition to plenty of work it is also a time commitment after you are released. You will spend 4-6 months in the after care program (it will start in the half way house, and continue through either home confinement or release). My view on RDAP is that it is worth it period. The time off and the commitment you make to your recovery is something people eligible should consider (what else are you going to do while in prison?). But I think its important to know it is actually a commitment worth reviewing objectively (can you do 9 months of programming?)

The program maintains it is a 24/7 operation (which actually it kinda is).  But there is no RDAP staff around on the weekends.

Programming is for 3 hours a day (some places 3:30) 

Monday - Friday

Monday  7:30 -10:30am

Tuesday 7:30 -10:30am

Wednesday 7:30 -10:30am

Thursday 7:30 -10:30am

Friday 7:30 -10:30am

Every morning you are in the gym by 7:15 to sit with your committee (you are assigned to your committees…more on that later).  But for 15 minutes you discuss your committees agenda with the chair and its other members.

Morning meetings begins at 7:30am

Morning meeting consists of the following:

1.) roll call

2.) greeting one another

3.) sayings the creed

4.) news, sports & weather

5.) announcements

6.) helps ups

7.) word of the day 

8.) positive praise

9.) upbeat ritual

10.) close (creed)

The meeting usually takes about 45 minutes (it better take 45 minutes or you will sit in your chairs quietly or some other un-creative but nonetheless annoying punishment) 

You interact with drug treatment staff daily, (DTS Staff), and a DAPC who is the head of her program (He/she is a Dr.)

You are assigned your own DTS.  

Your first piece of home work is writing a detailed biography (this & your PSR will determine your treatment plan).  See below.  This is my sample treatment plan.  It outlines the issues they feel you need to work on (addiction, criminal behavior, health, anger, etc). FROM THIS YOU WILL GET YOUR OWN PERSONAL PGI's (Problem, Goal, & Intervention).

Here is my very first PGI. They are brutal but accurate in a lot of ways (Not in all ways, a lot of it is boilerplate). But taking a hard look at yourself is an essential part of the program.

The community meeting start at 7:30am.  You are required to be energetic, motivated, & prepared.


Every day your energy & participation is judged by the staff (im not kidding).  This is the one thing that people don’t tell you about, they tell you take RDAP because get the time off. The thing they don’t tell you is RDAP is actually intense (I won’t say hard, but it’s a lot).  Nobody cares about your education or comprehension…..they care about effort & participation.  Although everything is dependent upon your DAPC and/or DTS.  The program is not a testing program (on either front….ha…they don’t drug test either).  But some staff insist on testing your RDAP knowledge.  If that’s what they decide who’s gonna stop then.  So you need to know the material. 

MOST IMPORTANTLY YOU NEED TO PARTICIPATE & be prepared.  You need to memorize the creed, 8 attitudes of change, & thinking errors (normal & criminal), 

process group is the twice a week.   It’s basically a small therapy group.  ITS CONFIDENTIAL (and inmates take it seriously)

phase group is twice a week also. Phase group is where you go over the material (the journals).  There are 9 journals in total.  

Here are some sample journal covers.

RDAP is broken down into three phases, the orientation phase (the beginning), the core phase (middle), then finally the transition phase (graduation)  

You are required to be part of a community service group. 

Those groups are made up of the following (each group has a Chair chosen as the leader): 

  • Core group or Mentor (these are the leaders of RDAP)

Cultural diversity 

Community meeting 

Personal wellness 



There are 3 areas that are the backbone of RDAP.

(I) The eight (8) attitudes of change

They are honesty, open mindedness, willingness, humility, caring, responsibility, objectivity, & gratitude 

(You can use the acronym HCROWHOG)

(II) the eight common thinking errors. They are Absolutes, I can’t, rhetorical questions, demands, statement of fact, loaded words, blaming, awfulzing (which is a made up word)

(You can use the acronym BADLIARS)

(III) the eight criminal thinking errors, which are mollification, entitlement, cut-off, sentimentality, super optimism, cognitive indolence, discontinuity, & power orientation.


RDAP has rules that DON'T apply to other units  

  • Inmates need to be out of their bunks by 7 AM.

  • no laying down in the unit during the day, 

  • all bunks must be perfectly made, 

  • no cups, or books, or anything on any of your lockers, or under your bed

  • you cannot have two pillows, 

  • Lights on at all times (except bed time)

Unit purity, that’s basically the nice way of them saying that nobody’s allowed in the unit unless they’re in RDAP.  

This pic was attached to our bunk

Drug testing.  The program states that they can drug test (so they can)…however I have never heard of any RDAP’s actually testing.  Normal staff may test you.  But the DTS staff doesn’t.  It’s a big deal to the normal camp staff…how can a drug program not drug test. 

Most of the normal staff are not fans of RDAP participants.  In the conversations I had the the responses were the lack of drug testing (accountability) & they feel we shouldn’t receive time off our sentences. 

Rdap Is a voluntary program, however, if they try to make you sign out.  Discuss that with your attorney or don’t.  Signing out of any program in prison puts you in a refusal status and will disqualify you from earning FSA.  So be careful if you decide RDAP is not for you or you are kicked out.

You make $40 a quarter for being a participant in RDAP.  They can subtract money at any time for any in fraction.  This is at the DTS discretion.  

There are incentives given other then money. Hats are hard to get in the RDAP hat was actually something people wanted. Incentives can include things like not having to wear your uniform to morning meeting, being allowed to lie in bed during programing hours, or your normal incentive items such as snacks, sun-glasses, binders, sunscreen, or book-lights (for reading at night)

Note is LVN RDAP on the side (only RDAP participants can wear RDAP gear)

Every week the DTS/DR. get together and discuss the inmates/participants.  It was called “TEAM,” at Leavenworth.  This is where the DTS staff decide whether or not you get in trouble (or praised)….but “team,” stresses the inmates out because usually participants getting teamed get in trouble. 

Common ways of getting in trouble.

  • set back (being held back from moving up phases…so your in the program longer) 

  • Kicked out 

  • Given additional work

  • Formal warning (a formal write up of what you did wrong)

Here is a copy of my formal warning (for 2 pillows that I had approval for)

In my opinion getting in trouble is part of the program (I think they want to see how you react). You can get in trouble for some of the most trivial reasons....see other RDAP post of mine where I show my formal warning and go into detail). Your response is what is important. Your are not going to win an argument with the staff (that doesn't happen in prison). If you did, what would you win? Your attitude needs to be calm and collective in these instances. I have seen people with normal responses (meaning they were upset over getting in trouble and showed it...not out of control....were visibly angry but not disrespectful) get set back a phase. Over 9 months of programing you will at some point get upset or angry. You need to always remember this is about getting home.

Each participant is required to speak in front of the group (on a microphone usually), memorize important concepts, and do weekly homework (things called RSA's, attitude checks, and journals)

Also PGI’s (Problem, Goal, & Intervention) are given that you complete then present in front of the class.

There is so much more to RDAP…this is based off my experience at Leavenworth & my discussions with other participants at different institutions.  

To me RDAP was fantastic.  Killing time is the hardest thing to do in prison.  RDAP takes care of your morning every day (5 days a week).  Also, when are you going to get time to work on yourself for nine months?  Whether you want to or not, you will get better at skills that are super essential in life. Things like public, speaking, leadership, running committees & problem-solving. Most of all if you have addiction problems you will never get a better chance to address them.  

Lots of people quit RDAP or get kicked out.   I won’t say it’s hard (work wise), but I will absolutely say it’s intense and draining.  The staff tests you & like ALL BOP staff they can do whatever they want without any accountability. So I believe part of RDAP is STAFF testing you and purposely pushing your buttons (I mean really trying to get under your skin).  You need to remember this is about getting home, not winning an argument with staff (easier said than done).

Here is our Handbook if you want to read it all its attached at the BOTTOM of this page.

AND just when you thought you were done. BOOM. Here is the complete study guide on everything RDAP. We were given this to review in anticipation of a test. RDAP is not a testing program....REMEMBER THAT.....However some programs will test you. We were given this study guide while I was in the middle phase (the CORE phase). The entire class above me was tested ....maybe 20 people total from my class and the class below me were tested....BUT you cannot imagine the fear this gives some people. If you failed the test you could be held back a phase (THERE WERE PEOPLE THAT WERE HELD BACK). It may sound silly to you but this affected peoples time and that stressed people out. Some people are bad at tests and wouldn't perform well under the microscope in a PASS/FAIL test situation (where 5 DTS staff are asking you questions). I kid you not this was a huge deal to us. Luckily the head of the program came to visit and shut it down (because again RDAP is not a testing program). But mark my words I bet testing is still going on at some institutions....and I bet it will make its way back to Leavenworth in some fashion.

SO we studied this. I know every word of this thing. Its is 16 pages long and it goes by journal (Journals 1 through 9). This is the written material RDAP covers

TDAP - (RDAP after program) -

MRT (Moral Reconation Therapy)

As I mentioned above most people forget about the after program portion of RDAP. Its more than you might think. It is AT LEAST A 90 minute meeting with a DTS/Counselor & a 90 minute group session once a week. There will be homework and assignments (possibly speaking in front of groups).

The program will be at least 4 months.

This is the workbook you are given.

In the MRT book you are NOT allowed to WRITE....ONLY DRAW. So you draw your thoughts, feelings, and actions (example below)

Presentations for each step are required. So you stand up in class and "GIVE A COMPLETELY HONEST ASSESSMENT," of yourself and your problem.

SO there is a test/presentation for each STEP.

There are 12 steps you are to complete in the MRT program. They are as follows:

  1. Honesty

  2. Trust

  3. acceptance

  4. Raising Awareness

  5. Healing Damaged Relationships

  6. Helping Others

  7. Long Term Goals & Identity

  8. Short Term Goals & Consistency

  9. Commitment to Change

  10. Maintain Positive Change

  11. Keeping Moral Commitments

  12. Choosing Moral Goals

Here is an example of a Home work assignment IN STAGE ONE (1)

STAGE one is on HONESTY. At the end of stage one we to cover ten (10) issues (all questions based on HONESTY). You give a presentation between 5-15 minutes.

Your group decides if you pass (2/3 VOTE)

YOU discuss the following:

  1. Lack of honesty in our life

  2. betrayal of others

  3. Effects of your behavior on family

  4. Effects of your behavior on friends

  5. Effects of your behavior on others (work, teachers, etc)

  6. Effects of your crimes on others and yourself

  7. Effects of your behavior on your health

  8. Whether you lack control over alcohol / drugs

  9. The role of seeking pleasure or avoiding pain in your past failures

  10. That you are now being honest and sincere. SPECIFY YOUR COMMITMENT TO CHANGE

You have 3 chances to pass a 2/3 YES vote from your group. The 4th time you may present just in front of RDAP COUNSELORS with them making the final decision.

RDAP Handbook
Download PDF • 16.96MB

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8 comentários

26 de jan.

Hey brother . I am glad to see you out and doing good. This is someone that was in rdap with you. I won't put my name out on here. Though we didnt talk much I had downloaded a couple TV series for you and grasshopper. You're graduation speech was great .


11 de jan.

This was so helpful. This website has been a godsend for us.


09 de jan.

Excellent review of RDAP! I use so many of the things I learned in RDAP for the re-entry group that I facilitate. EVERY inmate in every prison should be REQUIRED to take a CBT based program and if they graduate, only then should they be given any time off. We allow inmates in every prison "good time" credit allowing them to go home early, but there is no addressing the core issue of criminal behavior (irrational thinking / criminal thinking).

RDAP is worth taking even if you are not getting the time-off.


09 de jan.

This is phenomenal. Thank you


21 de dez. de 2023

my son is painfully shy. I wonder how we will navigate a class like this where participation seems so important.

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