The piece also notes - erroneously - that "Presidential pardons started with George Washington, who authorized a proclamation of amnesty in 1795 for participants in the Whiskey Rebellion." But insists, that "even when West Virginia had the death penalty [few] governors commuted sentences to life, but none did so on Christmas."
Matt Turner, "spokesman" for Gov. Joe Manchin, to the rescue. Turner says the governor makes no special provisions for Christmas-time pardons because it is "policy" to "evaluate clemency requests year-round." Indeed, if anything, Christmas-time may be ineligible for pardons. As Jonathan Deem, general counsel for Gov. Joe Manchin notes, in his three years at the capitol there have been no Christmas pardons issued.
Turner says the governor gets 50 to 100 pardon requests a year but only considers pardons for those convicted of "non-violent offenses occurring some time ago and who live a non-violent lifestyle." Applications and character witnesses are submitted to a parole board which reviews the request and makes recommendations to the governor. And, says Turner, "The governor generally follows the recommendation of the board."