Most 11th hour efforts to save condemned inmates involve the appellate courts and claims over constitutional rights.
But advocates for a man scheduled for execution next week are on a different path, one that asserts he has earned an extension on life.
An army veteran with a family and a decent job, Jeffrey Ferguson was part of the 1989 rape and murder of a 17-year-old St. Charles service station worker named Kelli Hall. While he was depressed, on drugs, and often drunk at the time, he says he accepts full responsibility for what he did.
Advocates for Ferguson claim the change in his life since his 1995 conviction borders on the unreal. They say finding religion was only a beginning. The say his pursuit of restorative justice, from counseling both crime victims and crime perpetrators to developing a prison hospice for dying inmates is unparalleled on death row.
Jeffrey Ferguson as an extension of the staff. If executed, they say his calming influence on the prison population as a whole will be missed.
"We believe that his life still has value and that he could continue to be a contributing member of society, even if he spends the rest of his life in prison," asserts Rita Linhardt an advocate for alternatives to the death penalty.
There has been no statement from Kelli Hall's family on the pending execution, which now is scheduled for just after midnight Wednesday morning.
Ferguson's attorney says there is one last appeal pending before the supreme court, but her client's principle hope lies with his petition for clemency to Governor Jay Nixon.