Trunk Space to Host Benefit

By Alejandra Armstrong

After an exhausting week, Jessica Robinson met friends for sushi Friday, Sept. 5, 2008. And while waiting for a table at the restaurant, Robinson had a drink. She had another at the table, then had a sip of beer but didn’t drink anymore because she knew she would be driving.

Robinson drove home after 1 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008. Minutes away from her home, she felt her eyes become heavy. The next thing she saw was her car approaching a truck on the road. The two vehicles crashed. Robinson emerged alive, but the other driver did not.

Robinson was sentenced to serve time in prison until April 2016 for vehicular manslaughter. Jeanne Robinson, Robinson’s mother, began volunteering at Perryville Prison, the Arizona state female prison, where Jessica is an inmate.

What began as donating books to the prison became writing birthday cards to inmates, which led to touching the lives of women in Perryville all under a “don’t drink and drive” campaign called Jessica’s Operation Orange.

Trunk Space, located on Grand and 15th avenues, is hosting a benefit concert Friday night for Jessica’s Operation Orange along with another organization, Gina’s Team, which provides education to juvenile facilities and prisons. Both organizations seek help and reformation for those in prison.  Photo courtesy www.larrywinget.com

Gina’s Team was founded after the death of Gina Panetta, a 25-year-old woman who died of myeloid leukemia and poor medical attention while serving time in an Arizona prison.

Sue Ellen Allen, co-founder of Gina’s Team, was Gina’s roommate. In her prison memoir, A Slumber Party from Hell, Allen mentions how she was heartbroken that young Gina died, while she, a 57-year-old woman who wanted to die, lived.

Allen said she knew she was blessed. She had a great life prior to prison and she had an education. So, she began educational programs while she was in prison and came back to teach after she was released.

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(First published by Downtown Devil)