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This article describes the history of special sex offender commitment legislation in the United States during the 20th century. It reviews the enactment and demise of sexual psychopath laws from the late 1930s and the enactment of contemporary sexual predator laws. The article then examines in depth the direct and indirect costs of enacting and implementing a sexual predator law, drawing on the experience of both Washington and California. It demonstrates that these laws will be very expensive to implement, will generate at least 3 generations of litigation, and may not be a wise expenditure of scarce public resources.