As part of their duties, prison officers recorded statistics for the Prisons Department, which were used in annual reports (i.e. number of prisoners in each category, kind of work performed, number of deaths inside prison, and other miscellaneous returns).
This series consists of 'returns of classification' of prisoners from all Queensland gaols into classes, according to imprisonment categories. Information provided by the forms includes: prison's name, date (weekly returns), class (1st to 8th), classification, males (youths, adults), females (girls, adults), and totals. Each form was signed by the Comptroller General of Prisons.
The eight categories were: 1. Prisoners undergoing sentences of imprisonment with hard labour for the first time; 2. Prisoners undergoing sentences of imprisonment with hard labour who have been previously convicted; 3. Imprisonment only, first time; 4. Imprisonment only, who have been previously convicted; 5. Trial or under examination, not previously convicted; 6. Trial or under examination, previously convicted; 7. Persons imprisoned for non-payment of money, contempt of court, or in default of finding sureties to keep the peace or to be of good behaviour, non-payment of money imposed as penalty under law; 8. Lunatics.
Prisons included for 1896 are: Ayr, Blackall, Brisbane, Charters Towers, Cooktown, Fortitude Valley, Herberton, Ingham, Mackay, Normanton, Rockhampton, Roma, St Helena, Stewart's Creek, Thursday Island, and Toowoomba.