Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pokey n.2

[? pogey n.1 (1) or the ‘poky’ conditions]

1. (also poke, poky) a prison, usu. small and local.

[US]C.H. Darling Jargon Book 26: Pokey, a jail.
[US]D. Runyon ‘The Bloodhounds of Broadway’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 93: Lags who escape from the county pokey.
[US]D. Runyon Runyon à la Carte 87: There is nothing left to be done but to clap this Mrs. Bidkar in the pokey.
[Aus]R. Park Poor Man’s Orange 123: Dolour thought he might be a dope-pedlar, and briskly prophesied a police raid, and Mr Reilly getting hauled off to the pokey.
[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 81: He was pinched on a vag charge and tossed in the pokey.
[US]W. Brown Monkey On My Back (1954) 239: I thought you’d be around as soon as you heard Pepe was in the poke.
[US](con. 1940s) J. Resko Reprieve 183: You’d be brought to the poky and put in a line-up.
[US]G. Marx letter 5 July in Groucho Letters (1967) 142: The police finally came and hauled him off to the local pokey.
[US]E. Thompson Garden of Sand (1981) 299: There were hardly ever more than one or two citizens in the local two-story brick pokey.
[US]O’Day & Eells High Times Hard Times 38: Mom stormed around [...] threatening to have everyone hauled off to the pokey.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Pokey. A cell or prison generally.
[UK]Guardian Rev. 1 Jan. 29: He was openhearted to Molly-O and Steffi [...] who are forever in the pokey for turning a five-dollar trick with the wrong guy.

2. a turnkey, a jailer.

[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 7: Sssss — Pokey! You got this door locked good?

3. a prison cell.

see sense 1.