You’ve probably heard the term “Oh, Gee” any number of times, usually referring to something that surprises or invokes some sort of emotional response from the speaker, such as “Oh, gee, that sux!” when someone drops their $7.00 Starbucks ® Latte in their lap or on their laptop keyboard. Lots of times, we heard something a bit more colorful, but that depends on the speaker again and the cirucumstances. Was it the Pastor’s latte and keyboard? Or was it his/her own latte and keyboard?
But that is all beside the point when the term is heard Behind Bars. If you hear someone referring to someone as an “Oh-Gee”, this is simply an anagram for OLD Gangster (Gangsta). The term is applied freely to offenders who have have spent a number of years Behind Bars. This can actually be a form of twisted respect for an “old-timer”, someone who has done a lot of time. The younger offenders or those new to the system are sometimes overwhelmed (usually) by the completely alien world in which they suddenly find themselves. The “O-Gees” are normally more resigned to their fates, more savvy about how to ‘get-by’ Behind Bars and, therefore, a wealth of information for the uninformed newer offenders. Of course, everything Behind Bars comes with strings attached.
“Oh-Gees”, depending on their ingenuity, ambition and need and/or greed, can demand various forms of payment ranging from shots of coffee, soda, pastries or other luxuries bought from the Prison Store (Commissary) to much higher payments such as protection, real money, alcohol, tobacco, drugs and/or sexual favors. Of course, it would behoove the uninformed offender to weigh the value of the information being offered against the price before making the purchase. Everything listed above is illegal, of course, and may not only result in disciplinary action with varying levels of punishment to retaliation in the form of bodily harm up to and including death if the ‘bill’ is not paid.
“Oh-Gees” are often very friendly with staff, providing diversions or smokescreens for younger/stronger offenders, or oftentimes providing staff with information that may or may not be real or useful, but thereby endearing themselves to the powers that be, which again, depending on the skills of the “Oh-Gee”, can be very lucrative.
One thing for sure, such skills do not come easily, but must be developed over time with many trials, errors and failures. “Oh-Gees” certainly may demand a certain level of respect from both staff and offenders if for nothing else other than having survived for 20-30 years Behind Bars.