On the 31st of May in 1876, Joe and Aaron spent their first day locked within the granite walls of Beechworth Gaol. They had been given a six month sentence for stealing and butchering the El Dorado School cow, which was to be served with hard labour.
Upon his arrival into Beechworth Gaol, Joe was stripped of his town clothes and stood naked to be measured, prodded and examined. The recordist noted him as being 5ft9 1/2, with blue eyes, light brown hair and a scar on his left shin. His nose, mouth and chin were noted as medium. Joe was then marched to the bath yard, where he was deloused like an animal and his auburn hair shaved from his head and face. After this indignity, the 19 year old was directed to a tin wash tub, where he was forced to scrub himself in the murky lukewarm water, before being given an itchy woollen uniform which offered little comfort against the long winter to come.