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Sachs was an advocate for mental health care | READER COMMENTARY

Among his many distinctions and accomplishments, Stephen H. Sachs was a vocal advocate for better mental health care in Maryland (“Stephen H. Sachs, who prosecuted the Catonsville Nine and later was Maryland attorney general and law firm partner, dies,” Jan. 12). I’ll never forget the powerful keynote speech he delivered at the Mental Health Association of Maryland’s annual legislative dinner in the mid-1980s calling for the closure of state psychiatric institutions, those “stone fortresses” as he termed them.

In time, state hospitals were, indeed, downsized although the community-based services that replaced them have never been sufficiently funded to meet the need. But thanks to leaders like Steve Sachs, great progress was made and thousands of Marylanders with mental illnesses, often with the support of peers and dedicated service providers, now participate in community life with dignity and autonomy.

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Herb Cromwell, Catonsville

The writer served as executive director of the Mental Health Association of Maryland from 1980-1991.

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