The gutting of Men's Central Jail cells to be replaced with inmate classrooms is one element of a dramatic re-envisioning of the Los Angeles County jail system as proposed by Sheriff Lee Baca.

During his tenure, Baca has expanded educational opportunities for county inmates. Gutting the old central jail to make room for inmate classrooms would take the program to a new level.

Inmates who obtain their high school graduate equivalent degrees (GEDs) are more likely to find work when released into society, and less likely to re-offend, Baca is convinced.

The response to the county's inmate educational program is "like nothing I've seen in my 47 years in law enforcement," Baca told reporters Tuesday outside the County Hall of Administration.

"It's a good idea," said one man following his release from Men's Central Jail after serving a week for a drug violation. "Not everyone, but a lot of the men want to change."

"Education can help," said the former inmate, who declined to give his name.

Other aspects of his plan include building a new central jail, repurposing Lancaster's Mira Loma detention center, and transferring women inmates out of the Century Regional Detention Facility, either to Mira Loma or to the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic.