DevoutRabbit, you make some good points, however I cannot totally agree you.
First of all RCIA is a rite defined for catechumens, not Christians. It is applied to non-Catholic Christians, and that is fine to a certain extent. But there should be obvious accommodations, and a earlier confession is certainly one if them.
While a catechumen, who dies suddenly, can be forgiven their sins through a baptism of desire; the closest thing we know of for a baptized christian is am act of perfect contrition, generally a difficult spiritual step to take. Now we should all trust in God’s mercy, we should not be presumptuous of that mercy outside the sacramental life He gave us.
The canon law seems very clear to me that a member of the Christian faithful has a right to confession.
The church obviously does not require a baptized non-catholic Christian to come into full communion before confession, as common RCIA practice is for candidates to go to confession a week or two before the Easter vigil. This is an arbitrary timeframe, and there is no reason while someone should have to wait months for confession if he truly understands and desires the sacrament.
Finally, I fully accept your statement that many people drift from the faith a short time after being confirmed. I have heard that it is likely around 50%. Between my wife and I, we were personally sponsors to three friends who went through RCIA, unfortunately 2 out of 3 of those people left the faith afterwards.
But my conclusion of this is opposite from yours, in my opinion, the church needs to use this fact and reevaluate the entire RCIA process. I realize people who go through it and stick with the faith are very reluctant to admit this: but if a large percentage of people do not stay with the faith after an entire RCIA process, it needs to be overhauled. It does n not work. Instead, people involved with the RCIA process seem to bury their head in the sand and ignore the results.