- The first class was to consist of women recently arrived from England who exhibited good behaviour on the journey – as reported by the surgeon on-board, as well as those returning from service with good characters and those who had successfully seen out their probation in second class. This class alone was considered assignable, and the women were sent to service when the appropriate employment could be obtained.
- The second class was to comprise those who had been guilty of minor offences and those who, by their improved conduct, merited removal from the crime class.
- The third class known as the crime class was the lowest rung on the ladder, comprised of women who had been transported for a second time, those guilty of misconduct on their journey to the colony, convicted of offences before the Supreme Court, or those who committed offences within the walls of the establishment.
In the article 'Backward Glances' by G.P. (3) there are good descriptions of the goings on in the Cascade Female Factory:
The prison dress was uniform, consisting of a dark brown serge, close fitting white cotton cap, and coloured cotton neckerchief. On the jackets of those in the crime class were sewn two large letters C, cut out of scarlet cloth; the one being fixed on the right sleeve, and the other on the back.
A massive iron-bound door in the stone wall opened into a long narrow corridor, on one side of which were eight cells, in size about six feet by four. Each cell had its own door which was bolted and locked on the outside. A similar door, corridor, and cells adjoined, each divided from the other by a thick stone wall, thus providing accommodation for sixteen inmates.
Cold, damp, dark as Egyptian night, and silent as a vault, the entombed wretch, after being supplied with her allowance of a pound of bread and small 'piggin' of water, was left to her own reflections and introspection. For one half-hour out of the twenty-four, the occupant was allowed to walk in a solitary yard, taking nearly the whole of the short respite to accustom her eyes to the blinding sunlight ere she was again shut up in her dungeon.
The ordinary term of sentence was one week, but in a great number of instances the penalty imposed was fourteen days. Confinement in the cells was invariably the introduction—kind of appetiser—to a longer or shorter period of imprisonment in the crime class.
From this collar band projected four iron spikes of about a foot in length tapering off and terminating in sharp points, the whole weight of iron resting on the collar bones of the woman being as supposed, peculiarly painful and irritating.
No alleviation of the terrible and dreaded torture was provided for in the sentence recorded, but the humane feelings of one of the superintendents—to whom the punishment was particularly distasteful—and who, I may say in passing, was altogether too sensitive for his position— supplied relief, as far as it was possible, in the form of padding, to make the punishment easier to be borne.
The term for wearing the collar was from 24 to 60 hours, and was intended to be continuous; but as it was impossible for the unhappy sufferer to take rest in sleep, this official chose to incur the risk of censure by having it removed at night and replaced in the morning.
There was also another collar, lighter in weight, having longer spikes of 3/8 round iron,
The women looked upon it as a barbarous, personal outrage—a degrading humiliation. Many who would have borne stolidly any other kind of punishment shed bitter tears over the loss of their hair; some fainted, and now and then one would fight like a tigress for the retention of her highly valued and petted locks, and the operation had to be performed under the persuasive influence of physical force.
After thus examining some half dozen a choice was made, and mistress and servant drove off together. Before the close of a week by far the larger portion of the human consignment was distributed amongst and in the homes of their masters in both town and country.