August 1, 2014

RDAP at Lompoc Prison Camp

My apologies for the delay since my last post: my life has taken a few twists and turns since I last wrote and, to be honest, I was just too overwhelmed for the past few weeks to keep up with my writing.

Of most importance to me, my recovery, and the length of my sentence, I was accepted into the residential drug treatment program, commonly referred to as RDAP at Lompoc Prison Camp. The program is near to – but separate from – the regular camp. So I had to move to a new bunk in a new barrack and basically start over from scratch.

For those who don’t know, RDAP is a Congressionally authorized 9-month program focused on drug abuse and criminal thinking that, if completed, can take an entire year off of an inmates sentence. In fact, other than good time or a pardon, it’s really the only way that a white-collar offender can reduce the length of his or her prison sentence. Participants are also guaranteed at least 6 months of halfway house. The result is that with RDAP and good time, my 50 month sentence will be cut almost exactly in half.

Needless to say, getting into the program was my number one priority. That said, acceptance was by no means assured – many are turned away. Certain specific guidelines have to be met in the sentencing process to be considered – and my acceptance into RDAP at Lompoc Prison Camp was due in no small part to Justin’s prison advice and assistance in the time leading up to my incarceration.

Like most of the participants, my main reason for coming to RDAP at Lompoc Prison Camp was for the year off. But now that I am here I’ve come to realize that the program is actually valuable in other ways. It’s not all about addiction but rather about the thought processes that led me and others to take the bad decisions that led us to prison. It’s making me think more about why I did what I did, with the result – I hope -that I will end up a better person with a better understanding of why I broke the law. When most of our system is geared only toward warehousing inmates who will be released unprepared and eventually return to prison, it’s actually fulfilling to be part of a program geared toward making participants better people out in the real world.

That’s not to say that I love it here. As some of our counselors like to say, they don’t give the year away; we have to earn it. The program is time consuming and rigorous and some parts of it – parts I’ll address in later posts – are not at all fun. I always thought of myself as a conscientious, considerate person but I’ve found myself struggling to abide by all the little requirements, everything from how you have to make your bed to what you wear to where you work. It’s a bit like boot camp.

The program here at Lompoc is not the only RDAP program. There are others scattered around the country, at both prison camps and low-security federal prisons. If you are facing incarceration, Justin can assist you with considering the alternatives. The RDAP program at Lompoc is considered to be the best run but also the toughest – the Ivy-league of RDAP programs, if you will. On the West coast, the only other RDAP camp program is at Sheridan, outside Portland. This is unfortunate because the BOP is considering moving the Lompoc program away from the camp to the neighboring Low-security prison. This will mean that for future white-collar inmates, the only option for RDAP will likely be Sheridan. I’ll write more on that in a later post.

In any event, I’m hanging in there and doing my best to connect the dots in my life to figure out why I stole all the money from the oligarch. If you are facing incarceration, I encourage you to contact Justin so that he can walk you through all the considerations related to RDAP, and whether or not to apply. I can’t tell you I am exactly enjoying RDAP, but as I like to say, I would walk barefoot across hot coals to shorten my sentence by a year. I owe it to myself and, more than that, I owe it to my family.

Leigh Sprague

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