I read with dismay “Prisons urged to improve ‘compassionate release’ of the ill” [news, May 2]. In many cases, turning out people who have been in prison for, say, 30 years to fend for themselves when they are sick would deprive them of their only home, their normal daily routine, their “neighbors” and the only source of food, facilities and security they know. They would be without health or hospice care when most critically needed. This is neither compassionate nor merciful.

The Justice Department’s inspector general’s report concludes that such a program would result in savings by avoiding the costs of caring for critically ill and by alleviating prison crowding. If health-care costs and crowding are problems, we should, as a matter of public policy, address those separately. But I find it cruel and unusual to release a human being when he or she is most vulnerable under the guise of “compassionate release.”

Ruth M. Heimburg, Alexandria