Houston, Texas, United States – After his personal experience of being sentenced to 10 years in the juvenile system, Dieter Cantu was exposed to the injustices such as lack of proper representation, coercion, extortion, assault, and other forms of oppression against the youth within juvenile jails. It was this turning point when Dieter Cantu decided to give back even if it meant taking a small step towards changing juvenile justice reforms.
The Trident family is a collective of individuals dedicated to community advancement and self-liberation. They are a social enterprise alliance of non-profit as well as for-profit entities, dedicated to addressing basic needs that are not properly met and solving environmental problems. They consider themselves ‘change agents’ who are dedicated to finding holes and issues within the system and solving the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to embrace the change for the better.
Their non-profit initiatives include community gardens, literacy programs for incarcerated youth, and housing for the homeless. Through their non-profit juvenile justice work, individuals and communities are provided with resources to meet their needs, that all humans should have access to, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as a roof over their heads. Other than this, they push for cognitive advancement and personal growth by providing literacy programs to educate and expand the mind of those in the community. Some significant aspects of his focus are urban agriculture and gardening, community organizing, as well as public speaking.
Dieter Cantu is also currently the program manager at Harris County youth collective, a Harris County agency that connects organizations, youth, families, and advocates to ensure that the youth is supported, safe, and has the opportunity to thrive. He has also fought for meaningful local policy reforms that decrease incarceration levels and reinforce the incentive for community action. He mostly focuses on juvenile justice reform, police accountability, and bail reform.
He is also the founder of his line of books which have now expanded throughout the state of Texas. The purpose of his program is to make a variety of books readily available for the youth housed at various Texas juvenile facilities. Currently, he is in partnership with multiple universities such as Sam Houston State University, University of Houston, University of North Texas, Baylor, the University of Texas at San Antonio in order to collect and distribute the books along with creating a mentorship and penpal program consisting of members close in proximity to maximum-security facilities. The overall goal is to use these books to improve their literacy rates and reading skills which will enable them to further their education and land better jobs once they have served their time.
This is a classic example of how Dieter Cantu used his own personal experiences and the issues that he went through in a positive way, and focused on bringing about good change from the negative things that held him down at a very young age.