Why do social perceivers use race to infer a target's propensity for criminal behavior and likelihood of re-offense? Life history theory proposes that the harshness and unpredictability of one's environment shapes individuals' behavior, with harsh and unpredictable ("desperate") ecologies inducing "fast" life history strategies (characterized by present-focused behaviors), and resource-sufficient and stable ("hopeful") ecologies inducing "slow" life history strategies (characterized by future-focused behaviors). Social perceivers have an implicit understanding of the ways in which ecology shapes behavior, and use cues to ecology to infer a target's likely life history strategy. Additionally, because race is confounded with ecology in the United States, American perceivers use race as a heuristic cue to ecology, stereotyping Black individuals as possessing faster life history strategies than White individuals. In the current project, I proposed that many race stereotypes about propensity for criminality and recidivism actually reflect inferences of life history strategy, and thus track beliefs about the behavioral effects of ecology, rather than race. In a series of three studies, I explored the relationship between ecology, race, and perceptions of criminal behavior. Participants in each experiment were recruited through an online marketplace. Findings indicated that (1) stereotypes regarding likelihood to engage in specific crimes were largely driven by beliefs about the presumed ecology of the offender, rather than the offender's race, such that Black and White targets from desperate (and hopeful) ecologies were stereotyped as similarly likely (or unlikely) to commit a variety of crimes; (2) lay beliefs about recidivism predictors likewise reflected inferences of life history strategy, and thus also tracked ecology rather than race; (3) when evaluating whether to release a specific offender on parole, participants placed greater importance on ecology information as compared to race information in a point allocation task, and prioritized ecology information over race information in a ranking task. Taken together, these findings suggest that beliefs about criminality and recidivism may not be driven by race, per se, but instead reflect inferences of how one's ecology shapes behavior. Implications of these findings for understanding and reducing racial bias in the criminal justice system are discussed.