BOP-Proposed Changes to the Drug Abuse Treatment Program

Post Date: September 14, 2015

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is currently accepting public comment on a “proposed rule” that would make some changes to the Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program (RDAP). If the BOP adopts these changes would make more prisoners eligible for the one-year sentence reduction for successful program participants.

Prisoners should be able to view a copy of the rule change in the law library.

If you want to tell the BOP what you think about the proposed rule, you can do so by writing a letter. You can provide public comment online. If you provide public comment online, use the rule’s docket number which is BOP-2015-0005.  

If you would rather write a letter it should be sent to:

Rules Unit
Office of General Counsel
Bureau of Prisons
320 First Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20534

The due date for comments is September 21, 2015. Your comment will become part of the public record.

FAMM generally supports the changes proposed to the RDAP program but we do not think they go far enough. Below we summarize what the rule change would do and explain a little about what more we would like to see the BOP do. Here is a link to the current regulation.

Something to remember: Even though the BOP is seeking comments on a proposed rule change, it may not change the rule or publish a new, final rule.   We will keep you posted on any developments.

Summary of the proposed rule change

The BOP proposes to:

  1. Eliminate the written test requirement in the regulation. As it turns out, the written test is no longer being used. The new rule would simply remove the requirement from the text of the regulation. The BOP has determined that clinical evaluation is better suited than written tests to assess a person’s progress.
  2. Eliminate the automatic expulsion of RDAP participants who are found guilty by a Discipline Hearing Officer of certain acts such as drug or alcohol abuse, violence or attempted escape.
  3. Eliminate the automatic exclusion from early release under RDAP of prisoners with certain prior crimes. These prior crimes include homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, arson, kidnapping and sexual abuse of minors. The new rule would instead only exclude from early release prisoners who were previously sentenced for such offenses within the ten years prior to the instant conviction.
  4. Limit the rule that automatically excludes prisoners who were convicted of attempt or conspiracy to commit the offenses outlined above or whose current offense involved attempt or conspiracy to commit a crime that has as an element the use of physical force against another, involves the carrying or possession or use of a firearm, or an offense that by its nature presents a serious potential risk of physical force against a person or property or involves sexual abuse of a minor. The new rule would require that the prisoner previously or currently convicted of attempt or conspiracy had knowledge of, or participated in, or directed the underlying conduct.

FAMM’s Position

FAMM intends to support these changes as they will expand eligibility for early release for successful completion of RDAP to more prisoners. We will point out in our comment that the BOP could do even more by expanding further the early release provisions .

For example, we would urge the BOP to permit prisoners with detainers to take advantage of early release. Right now, prisoners with state or immigration detainers may not benefit from the one-year reduction because part of the RDAP is completed in community confinement and prisoners with detainers may not be incarcerated in halfway houses. We will point out that nothing in the federal law authorizing early release requires a period in community confinement and that, according to the American Psychiatric Association, the RDAP program can be successfully completed without a community portion. This would then enable prisoners with detainers to participate in the program and enable many more prisoners to benefit.

We will also urge the BOP to allow prisoners to take advantage of early release who have 18 U.S.C. sec. 924(c) convictions based on weapon possession (rather than use) during a drug trafficking crime as well as those prisoners whose drug guideline sentences include enhancements for simple possession (rather than use) of a firearm. The federal law authorizing early release limits the release to prisoners convicted of “non-violent” offenses. We will argue that simple possession does not qualify as a violent offense and such prisoners should be entitled to be considered for early release after completing the program.

Here is a copy of FAMM’s submitted comments.