A person battling criminal charges and addiction at the same time may be eligible for Indiana’s Recovery While Incarcerated (RWI) program. This option is for people who have a history of substance abuse and arrests. A person in this position can face severe penalties.

This happens a lot with DUI / OVWI cases, where enough mistakes can result in the HVSO sentencing enhancement. It can also come up when a defendant has a history of drug-related offenses.

What Is Recovery While Incarcerated and How Does It Work?

Recovery While Incarcerated is a program offered by the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) that provides a comprehensive addiction treatment program while a person is serving a criminal sentence. This program seeks to strike a balance between treatment and punishment, and it is a part of the State’s purposeful incarceration initiative.

Purposeful incarceration can allow a defendant to be granted a sentencing modification upon successful completion of the Recovery While Incarcerated program. Requirements may include intensive inpatient programs, outpatient programs, as well as AA or NA meetings.

Who Qualifies?

The court is not required to consider purposeful incarceration when it comes to sentencing, but there are a number of relevant factors it may review. The IDOC states that good examples of candidates for purposeful incarceration and Recovery While incarcerated are patients who:

  • have a criminal history that appears related to his or her addiction
  • have committed and/or served time for numerous charges related to his or her addiction
  • may be facing a severe sentence related to drug offenses
  • have unsuccessfully been through other substance abuse treatment programs
  • have a significant history of relapse

How Long Does It Last?

Recovery While Incarcerated can take as long as a year to complete, so it’s only an option for someone facing significant time behind bars. The IDOC notes, however, that “RWI is competency-based, not time-based, so how long it takes an individual patient to complete RWI depends on how well the patient can learn and demonstrate the required knowledge, skills, and growth to meet their individualized recovery goals and treatment objectives.”

Basically, the Recovery While Incarcerated is the stick, and the potential sentencing modification is the carrot dangling at the end. The difference is, if you complete recovery, you might actually get the carrot.

Make the Right Call

If you’re facing addiction issues and criminal charges, you need an attorney who’s familiar with the purposeful incarceration initiative and the Recovery While Incarcerated program. If you have any questions, give us a call at 317-632-3642 and remember—always plead the 5th!